There have always been a number of issues with safety and security in the aviation and airline industry, particularly in terms of flight safety. Over the last five years, since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, there has been a particular concentration on developing new ways to ensure the security of flights around the world. It is often difficult for airlines and the federal government to find the right balance between airline security, economic concerns, and meeting the needs of the average traveler. However, a number of safety and security issues have come to light over the last few years that should be considered by flight professionals as they go through the early part of their careers.
One airline security issue is the possibility of hijacked flights and in-flight violence of a terrorist and non-terrorist variety. The United States and other governments have been working to find a way to build uniform terminal security processes that allow airline agents to find weapons and other hazardous materials before they are brought aboard flights. As well, the United States has developed the Federal Flight Deck Officer program. This program was established in 2002 as a response to concerns that there were too few air marshals aboard American flights to stop potential hijackers. The Flight Deck Officer program is a federally funded and voluntary program that allows pilots to carry concealed weapons under the same training used for FBI agents. Since the program is voluntary, pilots need to consider their opinion on armed pilots and make an informed decision.
An important safety issue for airlines today is the use of aging land-based navigation systems to guide flights into airports around the United States. The federal government, flight personnel unions, and the public alike are interested in using satellite aided navigation to offer an inexpensive and modern approach to keep runway incidents down. The cost of the cumbersome instrument landing system (ILS) is much more expensive than the use of space satellites to ensure the safety of flights.
Finally, pilots and flight professionals should be aware of personal and health reasons in terms of flight safety. One of the key issues today in terms of health and safety for pilots is the rule about mandatory retirement of pilots at age 60. It is important for pilots to understand the gravity of their positions and work with airlines and the government to come up with a health standard that is both fair professionally and ensures the safety of every passenger in the United States.